Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Microsoft partners again: with TurboLinux. My, my, was I right ;-)

On June 15th of this year I wrote a brief article about possible partners for Microsoft after it signed a deal with Xandros and Linspire. The article was called Microsofts next partners: Mandriva and TurboLinux. I remember that time fondly because it created quite a stir in the Mandriva community, eventually leading to a formal statement by Mandriva that it wouldn’t make a patent-related deal with Microsoft, much to the joy of many Linux afficionados. Of course I was accused of spreading FUD all along. But was I?

Well, this Linux Watch article of October 22nd comes with the news that TurboLinux is the next company to sign a patent-related agreement with the guys in Redmond.

This isn’t the first time that Turbolinux has worked with Microsoft. Indeed, in 2004, Turbolinux was the first major Linux distributor to make a deal with Microsoft. In that agreement, Turbolinux got the rights to ship a media player that could legally play movies and music encoded in Microsoft’s proprietary WMF (Windows Media Format). Then, in July, Turbolinux joined the Microsoft-sponsored Open XML-Open Document Format Translator Project .

This latest partnership, however, goes well beyond the scope of these earlier agreements. While Microsoft downplayed the IP (intellectual property) assurance part of the agreement, the arrangement includes IP assurance for Turbolinux customers who purchase Turbolinux server. No mention was made of Turbolinux desktop customers. With this move, Turbolinux joins Linspire, Novell, and Xandros as Linux distributors who have signed up for Microsoft’s undisclosed IP protection.

For business customers, the key component of the agreement is that the two companies will work together on a single sign-on (SSO) program. The goal is to create an SSO enabling customers to use one set of credentials to log onto Windows-based and Turbolinux-based systems. This will be built, in part, on a WSPP (Workgroup Server Protocol Program) evaluation license, which Turbolinux signed to evaluate additional technical collaboration opportunities on which to focus in the future.

So it wasn’t all FUD, was it?

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